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Rio Rancho students accused of cyberattack

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

Three teenage boys from V. Sue Cleveland High have attracted the attention of the FBI and the Secret Service for orchestrating a cyberattack on the Enfamil baby formula website using a school computer, according to a Rio Rancho police report.

Rio Rancho police have filed felony charges of computer abuse and conspiracy against Sylvain Jones, 16, Sergio Velasquez, 15, and Joshua Van Gilder, 17.

Jones’ attorney could not be reached for comment early Friday afternoon. The family of Velasquez did not immediately return a call, and the parents of Van Gilder said they did not have an attorney yet and did not want to comment.

The incident occurred shortly before school let out for summer break.

Rio Rancho Public Schools launched an investigation May 20 after being contacted by the U.S. Secret Service regarding a cyberattack that was generated from Cleveland High. The district, according to the police report, was also notified by the FBI that “RRPS computer access to the world wide web would effectively be shut down if the suspects were not identified.”

Local FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the FBI had been in contact with the Rio Rancho police “about this incident but are still in the information-gathering stage.”

According to the district report submitted to police, on May 13 the three boys were in their second-period robotics class, which has several computers that students use almost daily. The three had some downtime and were looking for something to do.

They told school officials they found the Enfamil live chat site through a random Google search and decided to harass people on the site as a “shock value” in hopes of getting “a reaction or weird reply.”

The boys said they sent vulgar and annoying messages – one asking about what they should do about a strange growth on a baby. The harassment, according to the RRPS report, started May 13 and continued until around May 18, the day they decided to send “tons of messages.”

During this time, Enfamil informed the boys that they had tracked their computer and eventually blocked access.

In retaliation, the boys posted on a hacker website under the heading “Raid Time,” which according to the report the district filed with police is “an all call to hackers to begin to bombard a computer site with messages in order to take it down. Unfortunately, in this case, it was successful.” The boys instructed other hackers on the site to visit the Enfamil website and “(Expletive) … with them.”

The district has Internet filters that block websites deemed inappropriate, but Enfamil did not fall under that category. The boys, according to district spokeswoman Beth Pendergrass, accessed the hacker website from a personal device.

“I cannot speak to student disciplinary action, but I can tell you that any student who violates our Computer Use policies and/or Rules of Appropriate Use agreement is subject to the provisions set forth in the policy up to and including loss of network privileges, suspension and even possible expulsion,” she said in an email to the Journal.

The district, according to the district report, was able to identify the students by their login information.

Lemuel Martinez, 13th Judicial District attorney, said his office had received the case.

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